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Graduate students may appeal substantive or procedural academic matters, including grades, evaluation of comprehensive examinations and other program requirements; decisions about the student's continuation in any program; or concerning any other decision with respect to the application of academic regulations and requirements to a student.
Decisions related to admission to an academic program, including admission to the doctoral program for current master's students, are not subject to appeal.
Appeals (except those under 10.1.1) must be initiated within the student's home graduate unit (hereafter referred to in this policy as "department") unless the appeal relates to a course outside the department, in which case it must be initiated in the department in which the course was taken, with notification to the student's home department chair (hereafter referred to in this policy as "Chair of the department". In the case of collaborative program core courses, the appeal is pursued through the student's home department where representation from the collaborative program will be included in the constitution of an appeal committee or hearing.
The process of academic appeal described in this policy must be followed for all disputes except appeals related to failure of a Final Doctoral Oral Examination or related to termination of registration in a program. Such appeals must be made directly to the
SGS Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB).
These appeals begin at Graduate Appeal Step 3 (section 10.3.3). In some such cases, the Chair of GAAB may refer the appeal to the Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee (GDAAC) for prior consideration and a recommendation to GAAB. The GDAAC does not have the right to overturn a failed Final Doctoral Oral Examination result or a termination of registration, but may recommend that such a decision be considered further by GAAB.
10.2 Informal Mediation
At any stage before filing and until the hearing of any appeal with the SGS Graduate Academic Appeals Board, a student may consult the relevant SGS Vice-Dean for advice and/or informal mediation. The Vice-Dean will serve as informal mediator, attempting to resolve the dispute or clarify issues. Timelines are not affected by mediation. Consultation with the Vice-Dean at an early stage is encouraged.
In cases where the Vice-Dean has approved the termination of a student's registration or in cases where perceived or actual conflict of interest is identified, the student will have access to an alternate informal mediator.
The overall graduate appeals process is set out in the table below. Students should note the timelines for each stage carefully.
10.3.1 Step 1: Informal
In the case of dispute, students must first attempt to resolve the matter with the instructor or other person whose ruling is in question. Should the matter not be resolved with the instructor, and should the student wish to pursue the matter, the student must discuss the matter with the Graduate Coordinator/Associate Chair (hereafter referred to in this policy as "Graduate Coordinator") and/or Chair of the department.
10.3.2 Step 2: Department Appeal
Should such discussions fail to resolve the matter, the student may make a formal appeal in writing to the Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee (GDAAC).
The student must complete a Notice of Appeal to GDAAC; a copy of this notice is available from the Graduate Coordinator in every graduate department. This form must be completed and delivered to the Chair of the graduate department or the Chair of GDAAC within the specified timeline of eight weeks from the date of the decision under appeal.
The Chair of the GDAAC will determine, at his or her sole discretion, whether the appeal will proceed by way of an oral hearing and/or written submissions. In either case, at the conclusion of the hearing and/or review of the written submissions, the GDAAC will make a recommendation to the Chair of the graduate department regarding the merits of the appeal. The Chair of the department will then render the department-level appeal decision. GDAAC guidelines for department chairs are made available to all parties in an appeal.
10.3.3 Step 3: Appeal to GAAB
The student may appeal the decision of the Chair of the department by filing a
Notice of Appeal to the SGS Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB) within eight weeks of the decision of the Chair of the department.
Filing a Notice of Appeal to GAAB is the first step for a student who is making an appeal regarding the failure of the Final Doctoral Oral Examination or termination of registration in a graduate program.
10.3.4 Step 4: Governing Council Appeal
A decision of the SGS Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB) may subsequently be appealed by a student to the Governing Council's Academic Appeals Committee, in accordance with its guidelines and procedures. An appeal to this committee shall be commenced by filing a notice of appeal with its Secretary no later than 90 days after the date of the GAAB decision under appeal.
Steps and Timelines
Timeline for Student Action at Each Stage
See Note A below
See Note B below
Timeline for Decision/Action by University Body at Each Stage
See Note C below
a. Student to instructor
b. Student to Graduate Coordinator
8 weeks from date of decision being appealed
2. Graduate-Unit-Level Appeal
Notice of Appeal to GDAAC1
8 weeks from filing of Notice of Appeal to GDAAC1
8 weeks from decision of graduate unit Chair or Director
8 weeks from written notification of failure of the Final PhD Oral Examination or termination of registration in a graduate program
3. SGS Appeal
a. Notice of Appeal to GAAB2
b. Appeal begins here for students who wish to appeal failure of the Final PhD Oral Examination or termination of registration in a graduate program.
8 weeks from filing of Notice of Appeal to GAAB2
90 days from decision of GAAB2
4. Governing Council Appeal
Notice of Appeal to GCAAC3
Note A: A student may apply, in writing and with reasons, for an extension of time. Such applications may be made to the Chair of GDAAC for graduate-unit-level appeals or to the GAAB for SGS-level appeals. Any extension is within the discretion of the GDAAC Chair, or the GAAB, as appropriate, where the view is that compelling reasons exist.
Note B: Informal mediation is available via the SGS Vice-Dean at any stage before filing an appeal with the GAAB. Consultation with the SGS Vice-Dean at an early stage is encouraged. In cases where the Vice-Dean has approved the termination of a student’s registration or in cases where perceived or actual conflict of interest is identified, the student will have access to an alternate informal mediator.
Note C: The Chair of the appeal body retains discretion to extend time limits applicable to its response at any stage where, in its view, compelling reasons exist.